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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Glass Rd. murder victim may have been out-of-towner

No arrests have been made in the shooting death of Dominique Mosby next to a patio outside an apartment along Glass Road on Friday night.

It’s not clear Mosby even lived in Cedar Rapids, and it’s not clear anyone even used the apartment where he was shot as a primary residence.

The 22-year-old victim’s family is in Chicago, police say, and the family hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks. He died from gunshot wounds after a dice game.

Mosby had been in Eastern Iowa before. He had a Linn County warrant for his arrest, for failure to appear for possession of controlled substance and interference with official acts, related to an incident that occurred in September 2006. A few days later, in Johnson County, he was charged with consumption of alcohol. He was 20 at the time.

“The victim’s not a tenant,” said Jess Hebdon, property manager at Cedarwood Hills. “I’ve never heard his name before.”

Hebdon wouldn’t give the name of the man who lives at 2030 Glass Rd. NE, No. 105, the apartment outside of which Mosby was shot to death. He said, however, he thinks the tenant has left town.

Police aren’t sure who actually lived there.

“We’re still trying to figure out for sure who is on the lease,” Welsh said.

Tenants near the scene of the shooting said the patio outside Apartment 105 was often the site of dice games, but nobody admits to knowing the people who lived there.

“When there’s a group of six or seven people sitting there with stacks of money like this, playing dice…it’s not the kind of people you want to get mixed up with,” said a man who declined to give his name but lives in an apartment nearby.

He said police took into custody the “only person I’ve ever seen” in Apartment 105 on Friday night, though he didn’t know the man’s name.

As usual, I’m asking for your help as we try to cover this story. Would like to hear your questions, and your answers. Hopefully a search warrant will be filed today.

Here are some questions I’m considering going forward:

1. Who lived at the apartment?
2. Where is he/she now? Was he/she questioned?
3. How long had Mosby been in Cedar Rapids?
4. How often do police have this problem, an uncooperative pool of witnesses?
5. What are their strategies for overcoming that?
6. Was there an argument preceding the shooting? What about?

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Filed under: Public Safety, , , , , , , , ,

Details of Becker’s release from hospital remain clouded

The mental health coordinator who was supposedly told that the sheriff’s office should be notified when Mark Becker was released from a Waterloo hospital is Bob Lincoln.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office says it was not notified, and the hospital, Covenant Medical Center, says it was not asked to notify the sheriff’s office.

Becker shot Aplington-Parkersburg Head Football Coach Ed Thomas to death the next morning, prompting questions about why the 24-year-old wasn’t given more oversight when he was let out of the hospital.

Lincoln does not work for the hospital. He’s an employee of Butler County Community Services and serves as central point coordinator for mental health services. He said Friday he could not comment, and wasn’t aware that the sheriff’s office and hospital have been issuing dueling statements on whether the sheriff should have been notified upon Becker’s release.

A judicial magistrate issued an emergency detention order for Becker on Sunday, asking that he be evaluated. Iowa law required that the hospital release Becker within 48 hours of the order, unless someone had filed an application with the clerk of court stating that Becker was “seriously mentally impaired.” That application would have required a doctor’s written statement to that effect, and supporting affidavits.

The hospital said it released Becker to a “third party” on Tuesdsay, but it’s not clear who that was. It’s also not clear whether he was evaluated after while in the hospital, and what that evaluation revealed.

Lincoln and the hospital are citing HIPAA, the medical privacy laws, as an obstacle to their speaking openly about the case.

Filed under: Public Safety, , , , , , ,

Would-be midnight intruder gets seven days

Daniel Kvidahl, the man who has been scaring the dickens out of his neighbor over the past six months by trying to get into her home in the middle of the night, will serve six days and six hours in jail after pleading guilty to criminal trespass and public intoxication for a March 31 incident.

Kvidahl was sentenced this morning at a brief court proceeding in the basement of the Palmer Building, 123 Fifth St. SE.

Sara Marino, a divorced mother of two who lives next door to Kvidahl, testified before the sentencing, with Kvidahl sitting a few feet away. The criminal justice system has not been able to keep him from repeatedly acting in a way that seems threatening, she said.

“I would like to have him just stay away,” she said. “He scares me. He scares my kids.”

Kvidahl scoffed at this, and his lawyer touched his arm to restrain him.

Linn County Attorney Nick Scott sought the seven-day jail sentence and a substance abuse evaluation.

“There’s an opportunity for the court to make an impression on the defendant as to the seriousness of the offense,” Scott said. “This is inappropriate behavior, and it should not continue.”

Kvidahl admitted having a problem with alcohol, and said he’s taking medication and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

He said he thought Marino’s house was his own, and tried to enter by mistake, because he was drunk. (It’s worth mentioning here that Marino and Kvidahl have quite different front doors. She has a covered porch, with a few wooden steps up to it. He has no porch, but only a cement pad almost at ground level.)

“I really, really, truly never meant to do no harm,” Kvidahl said. “Anything I have done, I’m truly, truly sorry.”

But he and his attorney argue he shouldn’t be sentenced to jail time. He never has before, in three separate instances where he was arrested on Marino’s property. He said The Gazette’s report about what has transpired between him and Marino, and the embarrassment it caused, has been punishment enough.

“The embarrassment and all the things that I’ve been through is like a punishment in itself,” he said.

The judge, Magistrate Lorraine Machacek, gave Kvidahl the jail sentence prosecutors asked for, citing “some indication” that Kvidahl’s behavior has been repeated and his “extensive criminal history.”

“I quite frankly can’t imagine anything more frightening than to have someone enter my house uninvited when they’re under the influence of alcohol,” she said.

Kvidahl will serve his jail sentence in chunks on weekends.

Filed under: Courts, , , , , , ,

Supes to ask city about federal courthouse

The Linn County Board of Supervisors said they will send a letter to the city on Friday asking if the federal courthouse on First Avenue East will be available as a “potential location” for the juvenile courts system.

Juvenile courts were permanently driven out of the basement of the Linn County Courthouse by last year’s flood, and the supervisors are looking around for a place to put them.

The federal courthouse, which was also damaged in the flood, will come under the city’s control as part of a land swap to give land for a new federal courthouse to the federal government.

The federal courthouse does not appear to be the county’s first choice for juvenile courts, but the supervisors are sending the letter regardless, despite having bowed out of a joint long-term planning process with the city.

“I don’t want the federal courthouse,” Supervisor Brent Oleson said. “It’s 80,000 square feet and it’s on the river. It’s too big.”

Supervisors toured the courthouse earlier in the spring, and were disappointed to find that the federal government left the mechanicals of the building in the basement when it did repairs.

Supervisor Jim Houser, though, pointed out that the building is attractive to the court system because it’s close to the county courthouse, already has courtrooms in it and offers room for expansion, which the courts need.

The supervisors will send the letter in an effort, at very least, to “dispose of options” that might be brought up in the public sphere over the next few months.

Their first choice right now is to build a new juvenile courts building on the site of the Freeway Lounge on Eighth Avenue SW. The county owns the space, and will get an engineering firm to do a feasibility study to see if a juvenile courts building will fit there. Results should be back by next week.

Filed under: County Government

13 commute using county vehicles

Thirteen non-sheriff’s office county officials use county vehicles to commute to and from work – five from conservation, five from the engineer’s office, two from the emergency management agency and one from public health.

Iowa law allows this, as long as the government employee reports that he or she uses a public vehicle for their commute, and that $3 per day is added to their taxable income. If the worker stops at a county work site on the way to work, she doesn’t have to report the commute.

At the request of The Gazette, Auditor Joel Miller obtained a list of county employees who commute to work using a county vehicle.

“There’s no policy,” Miller said. “If you don’t give them some guidelines, then everyone’s open to abuse this thing.”

Read more about this in tomorrow’s Gazette.

Filed under: County Government, , , , , , , ,

Looking for a steal in delinquent properties

I spent yesterday morning at the annual Linn County tax sale, and wrote about it for today’s paper.

It was a little monotonous to listen to Treasurer Mike Stevenson, in a bored voice, call out the properties and the bidding numbers for about two hours. But it’s a serious business, and some 75 people showed up for it. They bidded on properties for the interest they can get from the late taxpayer, which is 24 percent annually in Iowa.

Filed under: County Government

Where are Section 8 housing vouchers used in C.R.?

There’s a huge cluster in Wellington Heights. Here’s the map:

Section 8 Housing Map

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , ,

Palo woman honors “angels” who helped her rebuild

SandyWood
Sandy Wood’s home in Palo was flooded in 2008. The water was three feet deep on the first floor. Above is a picture of her, in her remodeled living room, with two objects of special significance for her.

The board with all the names on it is a piece that she asked every volunteer who worked at her house to sign. So there they are — all the names. The framed pictures are of Iowa State University students working on her home. One of the students made the frame for her.

She gave me a handwritten letter describing her experience since the flood, and though I couldn’t promise her I’d be able to get it in the newspaper, I can certainly reproduce it here:

June 2008 was to be a happy month, as our daughter Amanda got married June 7, 2008. Within a few days, the happy times were gone, as our home had been flooded. We lost everything, including her wedding cake and gifts. We ended up with three feet on the main floor and five feet in the garage. Our house was tagged on June 17. We found it was tagged yellow (meaning it could be moved back into). I was so happy that after having long hair for two years I went to get it cut off.

When we finally got to go see our home June 20 my happiness went into tears as everything was destroyed, even our beautiful pond. As we went into the house, the carpet was full of mud and things that belonged in one room were now in another.

Now, came the time to start throwing everything out. As me and my husband stood in the living room, we did not know where to start. We had wonderful friends from the Marion Gospel Church and all over show up to help throw out 29 years of our life. Most of it didn’t bother me, but when it came to seeing our children’s finger paintings and all the Mother’s and Father’s Day cards being thrown away, that’s when I really broke down. Our children are 35, 29, and 26.

We had no idea how we were going to be able to afford to rebuild with the money we received from FEMA and Jumpstart. Then came Eight Days of Hope as we were told as long as we had supplies they would come and help. They hung all our sheetrock, put in all the subfloors, rebuilt walls.

Then came students that were studying to be attorneys. They hung four interior doors and two pocket doors.

Then came Iowa State students (which I called our kids). We had five guys and one girl for three days. They put in front and back doors, two basement windows, the kitchen floor, one bedroom floor, two vanities and medicine chests. They hung all the kitchen cupboards.

Then came the sweetest 80 year old man and Teddy Bear and Grant who came out and built steps and put up hand rails.

We had so many people from everywhere in the world, and each one that worked on our home signed my 2×10 board four feet long, and I can tell you it is full.

Then came retired plumbers. One day we had eight. Next day we had three. We still need some more done. Marion Gospel Church made a beautiful Pepsi lamp for my husband as he is one big Pepsi fan. My Iowa State students made me a beautiful cross with pictures of them working on our house. There has been Peace Church, who brought us things and did yard work.

Each one are true angels that God has sent to us. We will never forget any of you, and we hope you come for a visit to see how nice our home looks thanks to you all.

God Bless,
Jerry and Sandy Wood
(If we have missed anyone, we sure didn’t mean to.)

Filed under: Flood, , , , , , ,

Portrait of Tonch Weldon

TonchWeldon

That picture’s from Tonch Weldon’s MySpace page.

The man charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Amy Gephart offers a few other clues about himself on the web page.

“I am the best guy in the world until you start pushing my buttons or screwing with my people,” he said.

“I am also a die hard hunter, I live to terrorize all those cute furry critters and turn them into cute tasty steaks. If you are a peta member or other sort of bunny hugger, move on we have nothing to talk about. Anybody else is a potential friend i just havent met yet,” he wrote.

“I like people who are real and up front, I can’t stand fake people who are always trying to come off as something they are not. I couldnt care less what you do or how you act and think as long as you arent afraid to be who you really are,” he wrote.

Some people on MySpace take a survey that poses a series of questions to help the person describe himself. Here are some of Weldon’s answers:

Thoughts First Waking Up: hey, im upright and breathing whay a great day

Your Most Missed Memory: grandma

Pepsi or Coke: old milwaukee

Single or Group Dates: 12 years married,—–duh

Do you Smoke: yes

Do you Swear: only when awake, i think

Do you Sing: i pretend to

Have you Been in Love: for 12 years

Do you belive in yourself: always

Do you get Motion Sickness: aint gonna happen

Do you get along with your Parents: love em

Do you like Thunderstorms: love em

In the past month have you Drank Alcohol: duh, have you met me

In the past month have you been on Drugs: just the ones that keep me from killing STUPID people

Ever been Beaten up: once, will never happen again GUARANTEED

How do you want to Die: ON A RIVER BANK OR IN A TREESTAND

What do you want to be when you Grow Up: ME

Number of Drugs I have taken: You cant count that high

Number of things in my Past I Regret: be all you can be, NO REGRETS

Filed under: Public Safety, , , , , ,

A lesbian, but not a “known” one

My editor has posted a blog item stating that it was a poor way to put it when I wrote that Amy L. Gephart was a “known lesbian.” Considering the multitude of objections to the phrase, I agree with him. It has distracted and detracted from a story that I worked hard on and was proud of.

People have interpreted “known” as a pejorative, like a “known bank robber,” “known philanderer,” or “known failure.” I guess I can see that, but I would like to point out that the word also has a literal meaning. Gephart is “known” to be a lesbian. The words are a hedge, to show that it is not the reporter, Adam Belz, who is claiming this is a fact. Instead of attributing Gephart’s sexual orientation directly to my own imagination or to any of the several people who begged me not to attribute it to them, I tried to couch it in terms of a fact that is well-known in a small town.

That was my mistake and what brought out all the boo-birds. I should have said simply that she is a lesbian, which brings me to the other objection that’s been raised: Why mention it at all?

There are crazy, but strong rumors in Marengo that Amy Gephart’s sexual orientation may be extremely relevant in her killing. That’s why.

Hope that helps explain the usage. All that being said, the word “known” has been removed from the online version.

Filed under: Public Safety, , , , , ,

RSS Linn County Auditor on Twitter

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